Alibaba launches world’s highest-paying eSports tournament
Thu 31 Mar 2016
Chinese internet giant Alibaba has announced that it will be launching multiple eSports tournaments, including a series called the AliSports World Electronic Sport Games (WESG).
Starting this April [unofficial translation] with finals held in Shanghai in December, the Games will include competitions for Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void and Hearthstone. The total prize pool across all titles will reach $5.5 million (approx. £3.8 million), with further money expected to be added from crowdfunding sources.
The WESG prizes instantly make it the most high-paying tournament for CS:GO and one of the top competitions for Dota 2. These massive prize pools will attract leading global eSports teams, which in turn will draw huge online audiences.
The project will see AliSports, which has already invested $15.4 million in WESG, team up with YuuZoo, a Singaporean social networking company. YuuZoo currently operates e-commerce platforms in China. Under the multimillion dollar agreement, AliSports will pay YuuGames to organise and run WESG and manage the AliSports eSports Clubs Competition Center.
The partnership is planning to launch 1,200 eSports events this year across 15 cities in China – a country home to more than 100 million eSports fans and 440 million gamers.
On the launch of WESG, Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, commented: “Sports is a multibillion dollar business in China, with massive growth potential. That is why Alibaba is investing heavily in this vertical. Linking sport and technology enhances the quality of life.”
AliSports, the Chinese tech company’s newly established sports branch, was set up in September last year. The business was built to create an internet-enabled platform which could participate in different areas of the professional sporting industry, such as sports media, events and broadcasting.
Promoting health and fitness is a recent national agenda in China, with the government announcing plans over the last few years to develop the sports industry and grow its annual output to $813.87 billion by 2025.